Intuitive Eating Principle 5

Discovering the Satisfaction Factor

Principle 5 marks the halfway point of our Intuitive Eating journey. This is a perfect time to talk about the keystone of intuitive eating; satisfaction.

Despite what our diet-obsessed culture might lead you to believe, food is an enjoyable part of our lives that should be celebrated!  Memories of birthday cake wishes, family barbecues, anniversary dinners, and cultural food experiences on favorite trips are all examples of how food can positively impact our lives. Diets teach us to subdue this satisfaction and “eat to live” rather than “live to eat.”  Intuitive eating teaches us to embrace the satisfaction factor. Eating foods that you enjoy and make you feel good is a fantastic way to connect with your body—which is the key concept of intuitive wating as a whole.

A point of distinction: there is a big difference between satisfaction and physical fullness. Let me demonstrate with the following scenario.

You’re visiting your mother’s house at the end of the day. As a result, you’ve been thinking about her homemade chocolate chip cookies all day long. She always has some ready. But alas, you’re on a diet. On arrival, you see the glorious cookies and you think to yourself, “I want to look good in my bikini this summer; I’m going to have carrots and dip instead.” You eat the carrots, you’re feeling full but oh boy, do those cookies look scrumptious. You eat an apple with peanut butter instead. Afterwards, you’re feeling very full but you still have a strong cookie desire. So, you eat the cookie anyway. Scratch that, you eat 3 (because who knows when you will be allowed to have them next).

This is an example of physical fullness without satisfaction. What you really wanted was a cookie—this was a special cookie loaded with memories (and plenty of chocolate morsels). You were looking forward to it all day! You had a really strong desire to eat this cookie. You tried substituting with fruits and vegetables you didn’t put effort into preparing. This prevented you from feeling mentally satisfied. Had we advocated for satisfaction earlier, how might’ve this scenario gone differently? Well, you might have enjoyed a cookie and moved on with your day, eating a lot less food overall, and feeling a lot less stuffed in the end.

If you’re not yet sold on allowing yourself food satisfaction, ask yourself this: how often have your food rules worked? Has restricting your favorite foods and treats actually worked long-term for you? Eating what you want, in an environment that is pleasing, helps you to feel more content with a meal.  Finding satisfaction in a meal helps you to not only stop eating when you’ve had just the right amount of food, but also to move on without food preoccupation or cravings.

You might be thinking, “Well, I really enjoy eating fried chicken and onion rings, so I’ll just eat those all day.”  Keep in mind the goal is to find long-lasting satisfaction—not just in the moment of eating food, but afterwards as well. Speaking from personal experience, if I eat greasy foods all day, I can hardly enjoy those foods because I don’t feel my best. In fact, I feel quite sick afterwards. Discovering the satisfaction factor means eating the foods you enjoy and really want, considering your physical needs as well. It’s a balancing act that comes with a lot of practice.

How do we find the satisfaction factor? Here are a few strategies you can try:

  1. Before eating, think to yourself: what do you really want to eat? Which textures, flavors, and smells do you want to experience? Chewy or crunchy? Salty or sweet? Sour or spicy? How do you want to feel after you’ve finished eating?
  2. Elevate your eating environment with a few of these ideas: clear the table, add flowers or a candle to increase visual appeal, play instrumental music, adjust the lighting, sit down at a table, take a deep breath beforehand to destress from the day, and/or chew your food slowly.
  3. Eating at the right hunger level can increase satisfaction. Are you eating when you are ravenous and don’t stop to taste the food racing down your gullet? Or are you eating when you’re too full to even think about what sounds good to you? Aim to eat when at a 3 on the hunger scale to get the most satisfaction out of a meal.
  4. Check in with yourself throughout the meal. Does it still taste good? Do you need to add a topping or sauce to really hit the spot? At what point do your bites start to taste less tasty? Is this a good stopping point for you?
  5. Don’t settle—“if you don’t love it, don’t eat it.” Stop eating it and find something else that sounds better. That way, you can be mentally satisfied once you reach physical fullness. Maybe you thought you wanted a slice of cake—but it’s really not as good as it sounded. You are not obligated to finish it.

Pick one meal or snack this week. What can you do to increase satisfaction at that meal or snack? Maybe it’s one of these 5 suggestions or maybe it’s something else you’ve thought of. Before you begin your meal, take a moment to note your meal and surroundings. Then, consider what about that dining experience is giving you positive feelings. Perhaps you record this in a journal which can help cement any takeaways.

Last but not least, let’s spotlight practical issues that come up when eating. Sometimes, you don’t always get to have a say in exactly what you want to eat (i.e. a catered event). But, you can practice eating what looks the most appealing out of the given options. Or, you can improve the environment by taking deep breaths, eating slowly, and enjoying your company. Perhaps you plan your meals a week in advance, so there’s not much flexibility in deciding what sounds best—that’s okay. Every food experience won’t always bring us complete satisfaction. Start with one meal and be patient with yourself as you continue your Intuitive Eating journey.

Please reach out to us at for more intuitive eating information. 

Other parts of this series on the Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Part One     Part Two     Part Three     Part Four     Part Five      Part Six

Intuitive Eating Principle 4

Challenging the Food Police

The food police are the unreasonable set of food rules that declare us “good” or “bad.” These judgmental internal thoughts telling us which foods make us good or bad are developed by exposure to Instagram influencers, magazines, friends/family, societal pressure, or strict diets. Challenging the food police means questioning the validity of these food rules, and reframing them to live shame-free from food. Principle 4 of our Intuitive Eating journey will help make food neutral to your character: you are not good for eating a salad and you are not bad for enjoying a burger.

It’s impossible to have a healthy, natural relationship with food when the food police is inaccurately translating your food choices into moral character. The food police keeps you in the diet mentality rather than freeing you to eat according to your internal cues.  Here are a few examples of thoughts monitored by the food police:

  • I wouldn’t be a good parent if I let my kids eat more than 1 piece of candy.
  • I need to exercise today; I ate way too many cookies last night.
  • I couldn’t stop eating chocolate today; I’m such an awful person.
  • I ordered pizza for dinner, I’m so weak.
  • I chose an apple instead of a cookie today, I deserve dessert later.
  • I ate after 7 pm tonight; I need to skip breakfast tomorrow.
  • I ate a sandwich for lunch, I can’t have any bread at dinner.
  • Eating too many carbs will make me gain weight and people will judge me.

These are examples of external factors that dictate food choices rather than internal factors. Make food choices based on hunger, satisfaction, and personal health rather than diet rules from the internet. This will help you live a healthy lifestyle with food freedom at the center. Now say you avoid ice cream in the name of your own health, or you avoid burgers for personal preference, but then feel shame whenever you do eat ice cream or burgers–the food police still has a hold on you. No rules mean defining healthy eating on your own terms; guilt-free.

Do not feel shameful for enjoying foods. Your weight or eating habits are in no way a reflection of the type of person you are. The quieter these shame and guilt-ridden thoughts are, the easier it is to listen to how our bodies are telling us to eat intuitively. Here are some things you can do to start challenging the food police:

  • Create a positive coping statement when those thoughts creep back in: “My food choices are not who I am,” or “I can set my own rules.”
  • Surround yourself with friends and social media accounts that are supporting your journey to find peace with food.
  • Stay away from absolutes like “can’t,” “never,” “need to,” “must,” and “shouldn’t.” Replace them with permissive words like “can,” “may,” and “okay.”
  • Approach these questions with “curious awareness rather than critical judgment” (
    • What are your current food rules?
    • Where did these rules come from, and how do they get reinforced?
    • How do you feel when you break a food rule?
    • Are the rules you have in place effective in creating an overall balanced, healthy life long-term?
    • When do judgments or guilt-inducing thoughts tend to arise?
  • Use process thinking rather than linear thinking.
    • Dieting rules set you up for linear thinking where the focus is on the end goal. This can be dangerous when you make a mistake. Linear thinking might lead you to think “I messed up. I moved one step away from the goal. I might as well overeat because I’m already headed away from my goal.” Switching to process thinking can put the focus on continual change and growth rather than the end goal. That way there’s less pressure when you misstep. “I overate today at dinner, but I learned that permitting myself to eat pasta made me crave it less. Now I know to practice eating a portion size that will make me feel better afterwards.” The small wins will help propel you towards your goal over time, learning plenty along the way.

It is impossible to completely remove the food police from your environment. The diet mentality is everywhere, from social media to conversation. However, you can learn to look at these messages critically, question their validity, and make your own rules.  If you feel personal guilt or shame when eating certain foods, it’s time to challenge the food police! Develop a healthy lifestyle separate from your self-worth. 

Please reach out to us at if you’d like to learn more about intuitive eating.

Other parts of this series on the Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Part One     Part Two     Part Three     Part Four     Part Five      Part Six